Good thing academics voted overwhelmingly for Obama. Surely, his economic policies will bring in the improvements we’ve been promised for the last four years.

Check out this report from Dan Miner at the Buffalo Law Journal. The story focuses mostly on the European economy but guess what folks… That’s where we’re headed.

Battered economy hits college endowment funds

What happens in the EU, apparently, is felt at UB.

Local colleges say overseas investments have been battered over the past year as a result of Europe’s financial turmoil. That has had a real-world impact on endowments, though some are still reporting recent gains due to fundraising.

That describes the University at Buffalo’s endowment fund, which continues a recovery toward pre-recession levels even while investment returns have slowed. An anonymous, $40 million gift was the biggest reason the fund rose from $494.8 million to $511 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The fund reached a peak of 2007 of roughly $582 million but later dropped to as low as $410 million.

Without the donation, it would have been a different story. But Edward Schneider, executive director of the University at Buffalo Foundation Inc., said institutional investment is more focused on long-term gains, which he said have been generally positive since 2008.

UB’s endowment has traditionally been a small part of its budget focused on specific programs. President Satish Tripathi signaled the growing importance to the university in a recent address. It will be used to support the school’s efforts at recruiting “outstanding” faculty and in scholarship support for students, Tripathi said.

“This president has seen the importance of building the endowment for the university and the impact it will have 30 to 40 years from now,” Schneider said. “It’s a very important part of the future of this university.”

The local trends are reflected nationally, according to recently released preliminary data from the 2012 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. Return on endowments nationally was an average of -0.3 percent, compared to the 2011 average return of 19.2 percent.

The reason?

“Many institutions had investments in European companies go down sharply,” said Ken Redd, director of research and policy analysis for NACUBO. “It’s a reflection of the euro crisis and the situation in Greece and other economies overseas.”